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MLB Notebook: Middlebrooks powers up

Red Sox third baseman hits three home runs in win against Blue Jays

When Jim Tabor became the first Red Sox player to homer three times in one game on July 4, 1939, he also joined the Yankees' Tony Lazzeri as the only players in baseball history to hit a pair of grand slams in the same game. Tabor, a right-handed-swinging rookie third baseman, made George Caster his first slam victim in the third inning, and then in the sixth, he came to bat again with the bases loaded and hit an inside-the-park homer.

Coincidentally, the next time a Red Sox third baseman hit three homers in a game, more grand slam history was made. On July 29, 2003, Bill Mueller -- hitting his first slam against southpaw Aaron Fultz and then his second against right-hander Jay Powell -- became the first switch-hitter to hit a pair of slams in the same game. Tough paths to follow for current Red Sox third baseman Will Middlebrooks, who could manage only a two-run shot and a pair of solo homers as he joined Tabor and Mueller in Boston's record books on Sunday.

Playing in his 81st career game, Middlebrooks homered three times in a 4-for-5 day at the plate. He is the 26th player in Red Sox history to homer three times in a game, and the first since Dustin Pedroia on June 24, 2010. Among the 26 Red Sox players, Middlebrooks is the third to do it in a game in which he was manning the hot corner.

Among the 26 Red Sox players to homer three times in a contest, four had fewer games in their career before the three-homer game. Norm Zauchin (May 27, 1955) did it in his 30th game; Joe Lahoud (June 11, 1969) did it in his 63rd game; Fred Lynn (June 18, 1975) hit three against the Tigers in his 69th game; and Tabor's three-homer game was his 79th career contest.

Middlebrooks' other hit was a double, making him the 22nd Red Sox player since 1916 to have four extra-base hits in a game.

Bad day for Cy Young Award winners
The Red Sox defeated the Blue Jays, 13-0. The Indians defeated the Rays, 13-0. The two losing pitchers of these two blowouts happened to be the two reigning Cy Young Award winners: Tampa Bay's David Price (American League) and Toronto's R.A. Dickey (National League). Price and Dickey combined to throw 9 2/3 innings and allow 20 hits, 15 earned runs and four home runs.

Big game for Santana
Indians catcher Carlos Santana had two doubles and a homer as part of a 5-for-5 day. Santana -- who entered the game with seven hits in 19 at-bats for the season -- has two games in his career in which he has collected at least three extra-base hits while catching. Since 1916, these are the other Indians catchers to have at least two: Sandy Alomar (five), John Romano (four), Victor Martinez (four), Einar Diaz (three) and Jim Hegan (two). Santana is the first Indians catcher since Kelly Shoppach on July 30, 2008, to have a five-hit game. That day, Shoppach tied a Major League record with five extra-base hits (three doubles and two homers).

Pitchers piling up K's vs. Astros
Oakland's Brett Anderson allowed two unearned runs in six innings to the Astros to pick up his first win of the season, and he tied a career high with 10 strikeouts. The Astros have faced six starting pitchers in the 2013 season; three of them (Yu Darvish, Alexi Ogando and Dan Straily) set a career high for strikeouts, while two others (Matt Harrison and Anderson) tied a career high in the category. The only one of the six to not enjoy an elevated strikeout total was Bartolo Colon, who fanned two.

Hot start for Coco
Oakland's Coco Crisp homered for the third straight game, becoming the first Athletics leadoff hitter to do that since Eric Byrnes in 2003. Dating back to 1916, the longest home run streak for a leadoff hitter is four games -- accomplished 15 times -- most recently by the Orioles' Nolan Reimold in 2012.

Quite the debut for Fernandez
Jose Fernandez (20 years and 250 days old) made his Major League debut, throwing five innings and allowing three hits, one run and one walk while striking out eight. Fernandez, who didn't receive a decision after the Mets rallied for the victory, is the youngest pitcher in Marlins history to make his debut. With the eight strikeouts, Fernandez is the youngest to fan that many in a debut since David Clyde (18 years and 66 days) struck out eight in his debut with the Rangers on June 27, 1973.

Samardzija fans 13 in loss
Cubs right-hander Jeff Samardzija fanned 13 in 5 2/3 innings, but took the loss against the Braves as he allowed four runs.

Since 1916, those 13 K's are tied for the second most for any starter who failed to complete at least six innings. On May 30, 2010, the Tigers' Max Scherzer struck out 14 in 5 2/3 innings. The Royals' Kevin Appier fanned 13 in 5 2/3 innings on May 25, 1994, and the Angels' Zack Greinke struck out 13 in five innings on Sept. 25, 2012.

Before Samardzija, no Cubs pitcher had struck out as many as 13 in a loss since Rick Reuschel on Aug. 19, 1973.

Butler shines at first base
Kansas City's Billy Butler -- making only his 33rd start at first base since the beginning of the 2011 season -- was 2-for-4 with a grand slam, a two-run single and an RBI groundout in the Royals' win against the Phillies. With the seven RBIs, Butler tied a franchise record accomplished 11 times before, most recently by Jose Guillen on June 7, 2008.

Butler's slam came against Phillies left-hander Cole Hamels, who had never allowed a home run to any of the previous 86 batters he had faced with the bases loaded. Ervin Santana is the active leader in batters faced with the bases loaded and no grand slams, with 114. And all of this is really just an excuse to mention Jim Palmer, who never allowed a grand slam in 213 plate appearances with the bases loaded.

Fowler, Chacin power Rockies
Dexter Fowler doubled and homered (his fourth of the season), Jhoulys Chacin worked 6 2/3 innings of one-run ball, and the Rockies beat the Padres to improve to 5-1 for the year.

Fowler, who entered the 2012 season with a career slugging percentage of .412 and then posted a .474 mark last season, is the fourth player in Rockies history to have at least four homers through the club's first six games. Larry Walker had six in 1997, Dante Bichette had five in '94 and Andres Galarraga had four in '94.

Chacin has made two starts this season, and in each has allowed one run in 6 2/3 innings. Last season, no Rockies pitcher had back-to-back starts with these qualifications, and for the entire year, the starters had just eight starts of at least 6 2/3 innings and no more than a run allowed.

The Rockies' 5-1 start is the best for the club through six games since 1995.

Roger Schlueter is a reporter for

Brett Anderson, Billy Butler, Jhoulys Chacin, Coco Crisp, Jose Fernandez, Dexter Fowler, Cole Hamels, Will Middlebrooks, Jeff Samardzija, Carlos Santana